Edinburgh Capitals have signed former Russian Under-18 World Championship net-minder Pavel Shegalo as the replacement for last season’s starting goalie Travis Fullerton, who joined rivals Dundee Stars last month.
Shegalo, 24, has spent the last two seasons playing in Belarus, twice back-stopping Mettalurg Zhlobin to the end-of-season play-offs, and Capitals co-owner Scott Neil believes the 6ft 2in Muscovite has all the tools to do the same this year at Murrayfield.
For Edinburgh to have any chance of making their first play-off appearance in five years, the goalie is a signing the small-budget club must get right. And, although admitting signing a player from the relatively unknown Belarusian top-flight may seem “left field”, Neil is adamant they have found a diamond in the rough.
He said: “The feedback we’ve had on this guy is that he has the potential to make it to the top level of the game.
“Last year, he played in a bad team and, by all accounts, he carried them to that play-off spot. Without him, they wouldn’t have got anywhere near. He’s been coached in the Russian national team set-up. He’s had an exceptional hockey upbringing, and you don’t play four games for a Russian World Championship team, regardless of age group, unless you have something special about you. We’re very hopeful Pavel will be someone out of left field who turns out to be one of the best goalies in the league, in what is a very important aspect of the team.”
Meanwhile, in a busy week of transfer activity for the Caps which also saw the arrival of Kazakh forward Sergei Banashkov, the club have confirmed a return for 17-year old goalie prospect Jordan McLaughlin.
McLaughlin, from Falkirk, who made three appearances for the senior team last season including a 40-save man-of-the-match performance at Nottingham Panthers, joins the Capitals’ academy programme which will see him train full-time with the Elite League squad while playing for the Under-20s and Scottish National League side.
McLaughlin said: This year will see me train a lot more with the Caps. My aim is to make every session of the week. Being at school last year meant I couldn’t make the day time sessions so training time was limited. Now, I get to train with them properly and get the full experience of being a Capitals player.
“If the Caps (first team) need me, I’ll step in and do what I can for them but the emphasis will really be on my training and getting better as player.”